US and Mexican labor unions and, separately, the US Government, have filed the first labor cases under the Rapid Response Mechanism (“RRM”) of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”). The RRM was a relatively late addition to the USMCA – the result of negotiations between the Trump Administration and House Democrats – and provides for facility-specific review by an independent panel, and remedies, in response to allegations of a “denial of rights” of free association and collective bargaining. The USMCA is currently the only US free trade agreement to include a mechanism to address alleged labor rights violations at specific facilities in the territories of the Parties.
On May 10, 2021, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (“AFL-CIO”), Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios Movimiento 20/32 (“SNITIS”), and Public Citizen announced that they filed the first labor case under the RRM. The petition alleges that auto parts manufacturer Tridonex, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries, has engaged in the following labor violations, including with respect to the current SITPME union that is active as the Tridonex facility:
- “Tridonex has denied its workers the opportunity to read or obtain copies of the collective bargaining agreement with SITPME. Tridonex has failed to deposit its CBAs with the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board, as required by the Mexican Constitution.”
- “Tridonex and the SITPME union, acting as an agent of Tridonex, have jointly denied the Tridonex workers the opportunity to ratify their CBA, in violation of Art. 400 Bis of the Federal Labor Law.”
- “Tridonex and SITPME, acting as an agent of Tridonex, have jointly denied members of SITPME at Tridonex the right to elect their union leaders by personal, free, direct and secret vote, in violation of Art. 358.II of the Federal Labor Law.”
- “SITPME, acting as an agent of Tridonex, has failed to provide its members with legally-required financial information reports under Art. 373 and Art. 358.IV of the Federal Labor Law.”
- “Tridonex retaliated against workers who signed petitions to the Local CAB by firing more than 600 workers and compelling them to sign “voluntary” resignations in order to receive severance pay, in violation of Article 47 of the Federal Labor Law, and by denying other workers benefits agreed on through the CBA, in violation of Article 396 of the Federal Labor Law.”